Local act Tommy Alto is the moniker of frontman Tom Vander Kam who creates indie rock/alternative pop alongside his bandmates Benjamin Klassen (guitar/vocals), Paul Engles (bass/vocals), and Brian Shannon (drums).
The driving motives for the project were once of a playfully cliché nature (playing guitar to get girls) until it grew into a much more serious devotion for frontman Tom Vander Kam (although he reassures us that the aforementioned motive is still a highly motivating factor by ending every statement with a witty “chicks dig it”). Tom first started expressing his musical endeavors under the “singer-songwriter” bit through performing at small venues such as coffee shops around the city until he was offered an opening slot at a music festival on White Rock beach. At this point, Tom developed his stage name “Tommy Alto” and equipped himself with 3 of his best mates to fulfill the function of a full-fledged band. In having a full band, a few (hilarious) things are contributed to the project: “Brian likes to pose nude in an attempt to inspire our songwriting. This is usually hit-and-miss, but hey we don’t judge. He’s also really fun and a great actor, which comes in handy a lot for some reason,” jokes Tom. “Paul makes us laugh and writes really unique (read: weird) parts for our songs, which triggers our creativity. Ben lifts weights a lot and is the only bearded member of the band, so we need him. I write and produce most of our music and draw pictures of cats,” explains Tom.
While the band is seemingly full of hilarious antics and energetic humour, Tommy Alto is an outfit that strives for complete independence in what they do. Tommy Alto describes themselves to be proudly, 100% DIY and try to be nothing but themselves: “We write, arrange, record, produce, mix, master and distribute all our own music. We organize and promote all our own shows as well, including tours,” says Tom. “We’re also very happy that we can’t really be pigeonholed stylistically. You can call us Indie-Rock or whatever you want, but we’re humans just like everyone else –-we grow and we evolve…and I think that really helps us connect with our listeners in a way that very few independent acts do these days.”
At the moment, Tommy Alto are working on getting their forthcoming EP completed for a Spring release, booking shows around the city, and planning for their 3-week long Western Canadian tour in August. Other projects include being Paul’s wingmen in trying to convince a cute girl he knows to go swing dancing with him. The best of luck gentlemen.
In the meantime, you can catch these hilariously goofy and talented gentlemen at the Railway Club with their friends and former Y57 music guests Their There on Tuesday Feb. 26th. Be sure to keep tabs on Tommy Alto’s musical journey through the social media links below.